Sneed exclusive: New leadership for CPS, board top spots

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CTA President Forrest Claypool. | Sun-Times staff

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New faces coming to CPS . . .

Sneed hears rumbles a major upset at the Chicago Board of Education will be announced soon.

Word is Forrest Claypool, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chief of staff, will be named the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

David Vitale is out as Chicago Board of Education president, and his replacement will be Frank M. Clark, an African-American who was a former top executive at Exelon Corp. and Commonwealth Edison.

Claypool would succeed Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who resignedJune 1in the wake of a federal investigation of a $20.5 million no-bid contract awarded to SUPES Academy, her former employer. She went on paid leave in mid-April, days after federal investigators sent subpoenaed CPS records about her, top aides she brought to Chicago and three companies owned by her former employers.

Byrd-Bennett was appointed by Emanuel in the wake of the historic 2012 teachers’ strike. Had she not resigned, her contract with CPS would have allowed her to remain CPS’ $250,000-a-year CEO throughJune 30, 2016.

Claypool has been a longtime political figure in Cook County and is a longtime Emanuel buddy. Emanuel chose Claypool as his chief of staff in April. It was his third stint as chief of staff to a Chicago mayor. Claypool served two turns as former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff. The second time he was summoned back to City Hall after a successful run as superintendent of the Chicago Park District. In 2011, Emanuel appointed Claypool CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Clark was appointed by Byrd-Bennett in 2012 to a nine-member Commission on School Utilization, which made recommendations to CPS, including the closure of 49 schools.

The commission was formed to collect community input on school actions, including the consolidation of schools.

Noble Street’s Rowe-Clark campus is named for commission members John Rowe and Clark.

OPINION

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Emanuel appointed Vitale president of the Chicago Board of Education in 2011 after he served as the chief administrative officer for CPS from 2003 to 2008. Vitale also served as former CPS CEO Arne Duncan’s senior adviser in 2003.

Vitale is the former CEO of the Chicago Board of Trade and former vice chairman of Bank One.

He took the helm at the board as CPS’ pension costs skyrocketed, and he was criticized for not coming up with long-term solutions. He also voted to approve the no-bid contract that led to Byrd-Bennett’s resignation.

Clark was appointed by Byrd-Bennett in 2012 to a nine-member Commission on School Utilization, which made recommendations to CPS, including the closure of 49 schools.

The commission was formed to collect community input on school actions, including the consolidation of schools.

Noble Street’s Rowe-Clark campus is named for commission members John Rowe and Clark.

Star power . . .

The Force is with us.

Sneed is told “Star Wars” mogul George Lucas has been spending a great deal of time on Chicago turf lately.

“His focus right now is the museum,” said his wife, Ariel Investments exec Mellody Hobson, a force in her own right, who tossed a fundraiser at her home Wednesday night for Andrea Zopp, who is running for the Senate in hopes of unseating U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

“He wants to make sure the museum becomes a world-class institution,” said Hobson.

P.S. Lucas will also be lauded Dec. 6 at The John F.KennedyCenter for the Performing Arts honoring his amazing body of work. “My husband is a tremendous person. I am happy for him and so proud,” added Hobson.

The Topinka file . . .

Late state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka will get her memorial.

Unfortunately, it will only be an auditorium.

• Translation: Although Topinka’s son, Joe, tried to have his mother’s beloved Riverside Township Hall named after her . . . the Township Board voted Tuesday to have a room named after her instead.

“So it goes,” said Joe. “We need to move on.”

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Duncan Keith, 32; Will Ferrell, 48, and Carli Lloyd, 33.

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